|From atsarang papaya|
Ok, peeps...during this week I am in a marathon for orientation in another hospital where I am gonna work per diem. So, even though I have cooked and tried and eaten quite a lot in the past days, my posts will be slow...slower than my actual cooking and eating. haha!
Like I said before, my favorite pickled cucumbers, "bread and butter pickles," was to me reminiscent of atsarang papaya when I first had a taste of it from my mother-in-law. Since then, I have been making them yearly since fall of 2005 (I learned as I watched MIL in 2004). I have been giving them away to Filipina friends every Christmas or whenever we would gather together and I still had some to give away (I have to ensure my own supply of minimum 6 quarts per year).
I tried making atsarang papaya last year using the same method but trying a certain recipe I got online, but trying to stick to the proportions of sugar and vinegar, and the kinds of veggies included, so as not to deviate significantly from proven recipes that are effective in keeping the canned atsara safe even without refrigeration. However, in that first attempt, combining the salt from the first stage, and the salt in the recipe I followed made my atsara too salty that I ended up throwing them away (sayang!).
This year, I resolved to stick to the brine recipe I have for bread and butter pickles minus the turmeric, because I included slices of ginger with the papaya, along with the usual bell peppers, onions and carrots. I don't like the taste of garlic in atsara (I like it in dill pickles, though.) nor ampalaya (but I eat ampalaya prepared in other ways). Since I have had success in the shelf-life (and maintaining the quality and crunchiness) of BBP that can keep up to a year at least, I am most certain that with this recipe, and observing proper methods of clean (almost aseptic) techniques in preparation, I will end up with atsarang papaya that I can say "Proudly Pinoy." Can't wait to let my in-laws have a try at it. My kids loved it (we tried some that we strained off the excess brine).
In choosing green papayas, for those who have not done any pamamalengke in the past, choose ones that are very firm to the touch, so that when you poke gently and firmly with a finger, there are no dents formed at all. Most of the ones I got, they tend to be hidden underneath the mushy, obviously not fresh, green papayas (typical business practice of exposing the older ones to get rid of them first).
When peeling papaya, I made sure I removed a thick layer of the skin and scraped the inside lining (where seeds attached) good. I believe these are bitter, but I could be wrong!
Now, this process can be so tedious when you are doing them all manually. I asked my husband for a food processor when he could not think of what to give me for Christmas. After I received it, I was so excited to finally make another trip to the Asian stores to get some raw ingredients for such projects as this.
Please take note that the brine has NO WATER; only vinegar and sugar, two very powerful preservatives. If you want to dilute with water or use less sugar, I cannot vouch for the safety or shelf-life, and so I do not recommend that. Please understand that maintaining pH and minimizing contamination are the key to effective canning/food preservation, especially for recipes that you will not process in a water bath. I cannot overemphasize the importance of reading first about the basics of canning. I have several links on the right sidebar for your perusal before you embark into the wonderful world of canning.
chopping board (better if you have a mandolin or a slicer either in food processor or as attachment)
nonreactive stockpot (stainless steel)
Jars and closures
wide stainless steel funnel (to make it easier to transfer into jars; I don't have any. I used spaghetti lifter and ladle instead.)
cheesecloth (for pressing out excess water)
bubbler (I dont' have any; I used the handle of spatula)
3 green papayas (each weighed about 3 pounds), grated
1 each of red and green bell peppers, cut in small squares
1 big onion, sliced round
1 big carrot, sliced round (you may want to grate it, but I like the flowery look)
about 2 tbsp of peeled and sliced ginger
1 cup canning salt
12 cups cider vinegar (this gives you light yellowish tint of the product; more so if turmeric is used instead of ginger)
12 cups of sugar
1/4 cup of mustard seeds (optional; I love these in BBP so I thought I'd include them. If you don't like eating these round spices, them don't include).
Day 1: Preparation -
Prepare the veggies as described above. Place in a stainless steel stock pot. Sprinkle 1 cup of canning salt (I use Morton - the green box) on top. This process draws juice/liquid from the veggies as the salt turns into solution by process of simple diffusion so somehow, the veggies get less watery, resulting to more crunchy veggies despite being cooked and kept in brine). Cover with the (hopefully flat) lid, and let sit in the fridge. If you don't have space in the fridge, what I did was to put it in a bed of ice cubes inside a medium-sized cooler, then added more ice cubes on top of the lid and the sides. Let sit at least overnight. (If made during fall, you can leave this in the garage overnight instead of using ice and cooler).
Day 2: Canning -
As usual, before proceeding, prepare jars and closures according to instructions in Canning Basics.
Next morning, rinse with cold water and drain. (I did this twice and tasted some to make sure it is the right saltiness I like). Place in two layers of cheesecloth by batches, and wring out excess water as much as you can). Place in a big nonreactive stock pot (aluminum is NOT advisable; it reacts with vinegar. Use stainless steel.)
Prepare brine and boil for 5 minutes. I usually start boiling hot water in another shallower stock pot, then pouring hot tap water into the jars as well, to prime them for sterilizing in boiling water. This prevents jars from being shocked with extreme temp changes. [During the actual canning, I remove the hot water in the jars then transfer the jar into the boiling water for sterilization, rotating as needed, and take out just before filling with the hot pickles. Alternatively, you can use a sterilizer by steaming (much like how you do with feeding bottles). I don't let the jars get cold before filling, or the pickles to get cold/contaminated before covering.)]
Pour the brine into the veggies. Cook on medium heat for about 2-3 minutes then lower to maintain heat while you do canning. In one fluid motion for each of the jars, proceed as follows:
Stir, then ladle into the jars. Make sure you have enough brine. Leave 1/2-inch headspace. Take bubbles out by using the bubbler (this minimizes air trapping; read about the effects of air trapping here.)Wipe the rim with clean damp paper towel to make sure nothing is there to prevent proper seal. Lift a lid out of hot water (or I swipe quickly in boiling water) then cover and close tight. Wipe sides of jar to minimize stickiness. Place hot jars on towel laid on countertop (minimize jarring), one inch apart, in a draft-free place (sudden rush of cold air might cause hot jars to crack). Additionally, you may cover with towel to minimize exposure of the jars to cold air. Leave untouched for minimum 12 hours. Observe for popping in of lids. If lids did not pop in, that signifies that it was not sealed properly. Place in the fridge and consume within two weeks.
Pickles start tasting like pickles after the 3rd day.
|From sweet chili sauce|